Turning the page on an offensive and racially-insensitive part of Missouri City’s street naming history, Councilmembers are set to hold a public hearing at their Monday, Aug. 3 Regular Virtual Meeting to receive comments for or against a related ordinance.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and the public may sign up to speak on the agenda item, which is 7b1, via this City website link: https://bit.ly/39pw73Q and they may tune in to hear the discussion via this live stream website link: https://www.missouricitytx.gov/780/MCTV.
“It’s time for a change and this official discussion and action to ensure that subdivision and street names are not historically offensive to ethnic groups is long overdue,” said Mayor Yolanda Ford, who initially raised the issue before September, 2019. “These offensive street names are unacceptable in a City as diverse as ours and they were unfortunately approved to be designated by past leadership. On Monday night, the current body of elected officials will address those unjust actions with justice and move our community forward in a more constructive manner.”
To address inquiries regarding the ordinance, staff compiled the following list of frequently asked questions:
What specific ordinance will MCTX Councilmembers consider on Monday, Aug. 3?
The specific ordinance that City Council will consider amending on the first of two readings is Chapter 82 of the Missouri City Code, which establishes regulations for the naming of new streets. Staff will present an approval process to Council that will provide for a more formalized process to review and approve new street names. Historically, the City’s process for new street names has been part of platting and regulations currently only consist of a developer/builder/applicant providing a list of their proposed names and showing the names on a subdivision plat. Staff then reviews the submissions to ensure that the name doesn’t duplicate an existing name and that the number of characters, including spaces, does not exceed a maximum amount so that a standard street sign can be created and posted.
“As it stands now, there are a number of street names throughout the City that are offensive and two of them were possibly named for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was the original grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan,” said City Manager Odis Jones. “Customarily, throughout this country it is an honorary privilege to have a street named after an individual. And some consider this privilege to Forrest to be unwarranted given the context he holds in history and what his actions symbolized and stood for within the black community.”
Mr. Jones added that “the demographics of Missouri City signal that regulations and operations need to transition and reflect the full diversity of the dynamic cultures represented in our community and the value of their customs and contributions.”
What would the proposed ordinance standards accomplish:
To address the issue of controversial names, the proposed ordinance would provide the following:
- Non-racial and non-offensive names (a person, event, place) can only be used if such has made a significant positive contribution to the City, community or overall humanity.
- Overused words would be retired; for example, the word “Plantation” is used at least 21 times in street names within the City and ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction).
Additionally, a developer/builder/plat applicant would have to submit background information with the street names proposed. That information would then be reviewed by staff and a recommendation on approval/disapproval made to the Planning & Zoning Commission. If P&Z disapproves a name, an appeal could be made to City Council for reconsideration. Once the agenda item moves to Council, the Members would take action after hosting a public hearing.
For existing street names, such as the ones in the Vicksburg subdivision, that process was already adopted by previous City leaders.
What are some street names residents consider offensive?
- Bedford Forrest Court and Bedford Forrest Drive, which were possibly named for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was the original grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan
- Breckinridge Lane, which was possibly named for Civil War Confederate Maj. Gen. John Breckinridge
- Stonewall Court, which was possibly named for Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson
These streets are in the purple area of the map below and are in the Vicksburg subdivision.
Other controversial street names around the City include: Plantation Creek Drive, Plantation Lakes Drive, Plantation Wood Lane, Plantation Ridge Drive and Plantation Hollow Court. Some of the signs that have the word ‘plantation’ on them reference places of heinous acts and abuse that existed in the past such as the Palmer Plantation in Lake Olympia.
“These names on City street signs dilute our multicultural brand and our goals of inclusion and acceptance of all residents no matter what their cultures or traditions are,” said Mayor Ford. “And because of that I am looking forward to getting this ordinance amendment approved on the first reading this Monday and finalized on the second reading, which will take place at the Monday, August 17th Council meeting.”
Has any other official City board provided feedback or taken action on the ordinance amendment?
The Planning & Zoning Commission discussed the issue at several meetings and issued a final report with a negative recommendation. The Commission said that the concept seems good in theory however, more clarification is needed on a process to determine the acceptability of new names. Additionally, Commissioners expressed concern about the time needed to research a proposed name before action was required. To view P&Z Meetings, visit this City website page: https://www.missouricitytx.gov/381/Planning-Zoning.
For updates, please watch the City website: www.missouricitytx.gov, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat—@MissouriCityTX and Nextdoor,watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T U-verse) or download the MCTX Mobile app (available for free in Google Play and the Apple app store).